May 18, 2022 by Gabrielle Martin
Renowned Nantucket-based watercolorist Meredith Hanson has relocated to Hingham.
You might know of Meredith from her custom, original prints, or perhaps it's her one-of-a-kind wedding collections — alternatively, maybe you’re familiar with Hanson’s home goods line, or her long list of creative collaborations with top-tier brands like Serena & Lily and Vineyard Vines.
For the past 11 years, Nantucket has been Meredith’s home and year-round source of artistic inspiration.
Throughout her work, Meredith supports her passion for storytelling, with her mediums varying between photography and product design to videography, with her focusing primarily between hand-painted, one-of-a-kind pieces and printed product collection.
From acrylics to watercolors, Meredith does it all – and she just may be moving in next door!
Hingham, meet Meredith.
“I spent my early years in Bronxville, NY, and developed a great passion for art and horses,” the Westchester County native shares, revealing, “I rode competitively when I was young, and eventually trained with Andre Dignelli and Kate Stoddard at Heritage Farm in Katonah, NY; I would commute two hours a day, five to six days a week, to ride.”
In 2000, Meredith’s family moved to Bedford to be closer to her barn: "My younger brother Chris and I attended Rippowam Cisqua School,” a private coeducation day school for grades kindergarten through nine, “where our artistic, academic and athletic talents were truly nurtured.”
“I was very lucky to work with Barbara Herzberg, a wonderful private art instructor whom I had the privilege to study with for many years. Barbara and I initially focused on strengthening my drawing skills, and later, I began working with pastels and oils,” Meredith recalls fondly.
She continues by saying, “It would be fair to say that I loved every minute I spent painting with Barbara!”
The Hanson family quickly settled into the hustle and bustle of Bedford: while Meredith was taking art lessons and riding, her brother took up the game of squash at just age six—a childhood interest that transitioned into a career for Chris: “He went on to play #1 at Dartmouth College and was the U.S. National Champion in 2017 and 2018 and a Pan Am Gold Medalist in 2019!”
As for her mother, Meredith describes the Hanson family matriarch as “a serial entrepreneur,” saying, “Throughout our childhood, my brother and I watched her launch several successful businesses, including a first-of-its-kind global women’s network,” and speculates that this is why both she and her brother caught the “entrepreneurial bug.”
Meredith would continue her art education following her high school graduation: she began attending Wheaton College in Norton, MA in 2007, pursuing degrees in Art History and Studio Art. After graduating with a major in Studio Art, Meredith arrived at a crossroads – and, like many college graduates – she “wasn’t exactly sure what career path I was going to go down or even where I was going to live.”
During her early twenties, Meredith tried working for an interior designer in New York City for a few months before “realizing I would much rather be in charge of my own destiny.” So, “After spending many happy summers visiting Nantucket, I decided that I would pack my bags and move to the island.”
“I focused primarily on oil painting during my college years and post-college years on Nantucket,” she explains. “I continued building my oil portfolio, and showing and selling work at the Artist’s Association on Nantucket.”
“Thanks to my mom, I opened a little gallery on the Old South Wharf in 2013. Although I only had the gallery for a year, it turned out to be a truly transformative time for me; I was able to meet hundreds of people who came to shop and dine on the wharf,” Meredith describes. “Having a ‘brick and mortar’ shop allowed me to become the face of my brand as a professional artist on Nantucket.”
The following year, Meredith discovered the joy of teaching as she launched a private educational art business: “Over the course of the next six years, I had the great pleasure to work with many talented young artists. Together we explored different parts of the island and really enjoyed plein air painting,” or the act of painting outdoors. She continues by saying, “It has been a tremendous joy to see so many of my students grow into exceptional young artists in their own right.”
As social media platforms continued to a become more popular place to share artwork, Meredith says she began photographing [her] painting process more and more.” She also began “dabbling in watercolors as [she] started seeing companies pop-up online that could print your own work on various products including mugs, stationery, wrapping paper, etc.”
Meredith articulates the importance of experimenting with as many mediums as you can to best find the style, medium, or theme that represents your artistic identity, talents, and passions: “Having been a competitive athlete when I was young, I use that discipline to drive myself to create and paint to the best of my abilities on a daily basis. Because we live in a very visual world, having the ability to share my work with others so easily online creates competition in a good way.”
“Thanks to the power of social media, I have had the opportunity to curate my own online ‘gallery’ over the past decade.” In this space, Meredith is not only the artist, but also the administrator, curator, marketing director, photographer, and videographer. And eventually, she “would put oil paintings and gallery life on hold to pursue product collaborations and creative content production partnerships.”
So, what’s a day-in-the-life of a professional artist like?
Meredith says, “Every day is different! I might spend the entire day painting, and the next day I might be more focused on product photography and film, all while staying on top of administrative tasks such as email and Instagram correspondence with clients and potential clients.”
Additionally, she says her artistic process also varies depending on the medium that she’s working with. “When I enter into a collaborative partnership, I like to supply the clients with a preliminary watercolor sample of our proposed project and may continue in that medium or transition to acrylics.”
Meredith advises, “It is crucial to have an open line of communication with the company that you are working with as making edits in a timely fashion are important for work deadlines.”
Later in our interview, she adds, “The most important advice that I have received is to remember to focus on what makes you happy and do/create what inspires you.”
“Over the past few years, scheduling and taking on collaborations has been a bit of a lab experiment; there is no method or exact calculation that an artist can use to ensure that a project will end right on time, or a client won’t need additional edits,” Meredith explains, “which then, in turn, effects the timing of your next collaboration. I feel very fortunate to do what I love and have the support of my family behind me to continue on this artistic journey as my schedule is very ‘go, go, go’ year-round.”
Hanson expresses gratitude to her mother, brother, and fiancé Trevor, saying, “[They] are my best business consultants and strategists.”
2022 has been a big year of collaborative projects for Meredith, once again finding opportunity through social media. “I have been fortunate to connect with companies and business owners on Nantucket, and more nationally, through Instagram. Last fall, I had the amazing opportunity to work directly with Samantha Benson of Sammy & Nat and Emily Hikade of Petite Plume,” Meredith reveals.
“Our watercolor collaborations will release this summer and throughout the holiday season, alongside a special collaboration with Erin Hornyak of Navy BLEU and Jillian Moorhead of Powder Puff Collection,” she shares.
Aside from her watercolor collection collaborations, Hanson has ongoing partnerships to create acrylic hand-painted collections with Serena & Lily, Peter Beaton, Over the Moon, and J. McLaughlin.
Additionally, this year, a number of her collaborations will have a bridal or wedding theme. “Collaborating with Peter Beaton and Over the Moon on an exclusive collection of hand-painted hats has been incredibly exciting,” Meredith reflects. “Over the Moon is an e-commerce platform and wedding registry [that] has taken the market by storm. I posted photos of my painting process on my Instagram account and when we officially launched, several collections sold out in a matter of days!”
Looking ahead, Meredith will be working on creating hand-painted ornaments for the holiday season with a particular emphasis on Nantucket wedding venues. “Literally hundreds of people get married on the island every year, and having a hand-painted ornament of their wedding venue or special island scene is something these brides really cherish,” she says.
Welcome to town, Meredith. We hope you find inspiration here in Hingham! You can keep up with Hanson on Instagram @merhanson or visit her website, meredithhansonart.com, for more information.